Why is the Frog on the bow called the frog?????

March 15, 2006 at 07:05 AM · Hello,

My daughter plays the viola and she needs to know if anyone out there knows why the frog on the bow is called the frog, where the name came from and how it was aquired. If you can help please email us. angelmom405@hotmail.com

Replies (28)

March 15, 2006 at 08:27 AM · Here's my theory. The frog is also called the "heel", or "talon" in French, and is the bottom part of the bow that is nearest to the hand.

Is it a coincidence that the bottom of a horse's hoof is also called the frog? I don't think so. So they must be named the frog for the same reason. I'm not sure what that reason is, but the bottom part of a horse's foot does happen to have a frog-like shape to it. You have to be a little creative to see it.

A funny story about how the horse's frog got its name

A frog, as part of the "heel" or "talon" of the horse. See how it resembles the triangular, squishy fellow?

March 15, 2006 at 02:45 PM · Check out this address:


Supposedly, the word "frog" comes from the vise used to hold the bow when it is being made.

March 15, 2006 at 03:37 PM · The bow's nut is a frog in both English (where it's also a nut and a heel) and in German (der Frosh). In English we play at the frog, in French au talon, and in German, am Frosch.

The soft bit of horse's hoof in English is the frush, from French frouchette, apparently because of it's forked shape (so sayeth the OED). Hence, I suspect that the relationship between horses and fiddle bows is limited to the hind end (the horse's).

The first usage of frog - in this context - in the OED is late, 1876, from 'STAINER & BARRETT Dict. Mus. Terms'. Nut (nutt) is used back to the 17 Century. If frog is a recent addition to English vocabulary, we can suspect it is borrowed from German, but we are left wondering why it's a frog to them, too.

March 15, 2006 at 07:39 PM · frush

\Frush\, n. [Cf. OE. frosch, frosk, a frog (the animal), G. frosch frog (the animal), also carney or lampass of horses. See Frog, n., 2.] 1. (Far.) The frog of a horse's foot.

2. A discharge of a fetid or ichorous matter from the frog of a horse's foot; -- also called thrush.

March 15, 2006 at 10:01 PM · "A discharge of a fetid or ichorous matter from the frog of a horse's foot;"

This describes the sound a violin makes if one DOESN'T play at the frog enough,

N. Tavani

March 16, 2006 at 08:57 PM · I call it the frog because that's the only word I have to describe it.

If you color the black part green, the white spot looks like an eye and the notch looks like a mouth...tell her it looks like a frog.

March 16, 2006 at 09:27 PM · It's called the frog, because the world is illogical.

How's that for an answer?


March 16, 2006 at 09:32 PM · (From the above-named website):

Re: frog - part of violin bow


Well, it sort of looks like a frog. Sort of.


Registered User

Posts: 2095

(8/28/03 6:53 am)

Re: frog - part of violin bow


No, in reality the term 'frog' is almost certainly a corruption of 'frock', the term used by luthiers for the small vice in which a frog is shaped and fashioned. Just as the vice gripped the ebony, ivory or whatever material the luthier was using at the time, so the 'frog' provides purchase, or grip, from the player (though,of course, that grip should not be vice-like but light and responsive). Why the word was changed from 'frock' no-one seems to know, but a full explanation of the derivation is to be found in 'Histoire des Luthiers Francais, Ses Techniques et Ses Traditions', by Rene Sottises (publ. Poisson d'Avril, Paris, 1968)

From The Violin Man site.

Edit: Wow, daffy! A German origin given here:


March 17, 2006 at 12:33 PM · Umm. The publisher of 'Histoire des Luthiers..' is 'Poisson d'Avril'? It's worth looking that phrase up in a French English dictionary.

March 17, 2006 at 03:59 PM · Poisson d'Avril: Fish of April, has to do with the "April Fool" tradition in France. Funny name for a publisher. Could a leg be getting pulled?

March 17, 2006 at 04:13 PM · It has to do with the frogs long sticky tongue and the bows long sticky rosined hair. What else could you call it? And therefore why not put two eyes on it:)

March 17, 2006 at 06:56 PM · For a frog, mine certainly doesn't jump much. The tip should be called the frog, and the frog should be called the hippo.

March 17, 2006 at 08:53 PM · The frog should actually be called the "Pinkie Shelf."

The tip should be called the "Cowcatcher," cause that's what it looks like.

The stick should be called the "Hair Holder."

And the hair should be called the "Hair," cause that's what it looks like.

Has anyone noticed that "frog" spelled backwards is "gorf." And Gorf, by another strange coincidence, is the name of the person who invented the frog of the bow. Helmut Gorf (who died in his 30's of cancer of the cloaca) was a close friend of Stradivarius, Bach, and Samuel Barber.

{if you really believe all this, I've got some land in Iraq you might be interested in)

March 20, 2006 at 09:44 PM · my frog bounces a lot...but I call it spiccatto or col legno most of the time. My frog is a lot happier when it is bouncing.

March 21, 2006 at 03:24 AM · My frog is happiest when left alone.

March 21, 2006 at 04:57 AM · Ribbit.

March 26, 2006 at 09:03 PM · I thought they were called "frogs" because if you play down there too much the bow starts bouncing like a homicidal maniac and eventually whaps you in the face.

My frog is white. I therefore don't think the word "frog" has anything to do with how they look. So I don't have any actually good theories...

March 26, 2006 at 09:26 PM · I think in the trades a frog is often a small, simple, chunky object that retains something. If you were snooping around a machine shop and picked up some small piece that looked like it had seen a lot of use, the guy might say something like "That there's a frog from a sheet metal brake." Or "That's there's the frog to that 20 ton press over yonder." Or "That there's the frog to that there horizonal milling machine over there."

August 29, 2011 at 03:13 AM ·

There are a number of devices historically called frogs; a braided closure for clothing that has a loop (for a button or toggle) is called a frog; also the loop on a sword-belt through which the sword is hung is called a frog.  I believe there were some mechanical devices called frogs in probably the 18th century as well - one was a supporting device permitting one set of train tracks to traverse a second.  I'm inclined to think that a small-ish thing that joins two things and has a loop or hole was likely to be called a frog in those days.  The frog on a violin is a mechanical device which joins the hair to the stick, and has a loopy-hole shape, so it appears to be similar in function, if not actual shape or design, to the other frogs mentioned.

August 29, 2011 at 01:33 PM ·

Brekekekex koax koax.  (Aristophanes)

August 29, 2011 at 06:59 PM ·

It was originally called a newt, but due to inter-beeding, it became a frog. (Old Oxford English dictionary, circa 1540). (I have the only copy of this dictionary ...)

August 29, 2011 at 08:43 PM ·

Maybe a little girl several hundred years ago asked her father , a famous luthier , what the froggy looking thing that held the hair was. He must of told her that it was! a frog! and name stuck. The End.


August 30, 2011 at 12:51 AM ·

 If you kiss the frog, it becomes a prince.

August 30, 2011 at 02:38 AM ·

Wow,this is an old post 2006

August 30, 2011 at 04:26 AM ·

A real sleeping beauty.

Just hope the frog doesn't let down it's hair.

August 30, 2011 at 08:25 AM ·

thingamajig + bow = tad pole P(A | B) = frog


September 2, 2011 at 07:18 PM ·

No idea why the frog is called frog. But how is it that all the words for that part of the bow (frog, nut, heel) are names that one cannot politely call someone else?

In early 18th century France, it was an insult to say  "Monsieur, vous êtes un violon!" (Sir, you are a violin!) It could be a remnant of that.

September 2, 2011 at 11:48 PM ·

Because for some players it sounds like a frog playing at the frog

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